The overload of tiny text in the Terms of Service Agreement is for most people just a blur of words that they don’t take the time to read. Most people I know bypass the reading and head straight for the little square box next to the words “I agree to the terms and conditions” without thinking twice. In Margaret Jane Radin’s book Boilerplate, she examines how these fine print service agreements or boilerplate contracts might seem very little but can have a big impact. Boilerplate contracts threaten rights that people would otherwise be entitled to if they had not agreed to the terms of services agreement. They are not real contracts at all and actually degrade the moral basis of contract law.
The Wall Street Journal recently reviewed Boilerplate and called it “[A] sophisticated and thought-provoking treatment of the boilerplate contracts that everyone signs yet few read or understand.”
Read the full review here and read Boilerplate, and maybe even read the terms of service agreement the next time you buy music or rent an apartment.